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    « So what's so wrong with growing old? | Main | Extracts from the 2007 Queen's speech »

    17 December 2007


    Lindsey Palmer

    I was about 5 years old when I found out Father Christmas didn't elder brother forced me to sit up all night with him to wait for the annual visit...we forced ourselves to stay awake - we even had back up plans, in case we did fall asleep (these consisted of fairly complicated webs of thread that were tied to big toes, which were also attached to musical instruments, which in turn were attached to door handles, that finally balanced a tambourine just above the door frame!!)

    I can say now that, with regret, out master plan worked. Our Auntie (who was living with us at the time) not only got a shock but was absolutely furious to be caught out as she quietly creeped through the dark, looking forward to filling our stockings!

    We gave our Auntie such a fright, she actually shouted at us, which made me burst into I can safely say there was absolutely no joy or triumph in succeeding in our well-executed plan!

    Janine Hall

    A friend of mine overheard her eight year old nephew with his best friend commenting on the pros and cons of Christmas. The pros included presents, late nights, the Christmas tree and parties. The cons were having to endure all the kisses, mainly from adults... Have a magical Christmas everyone!


    With two kids who are counting down the days to Christmas with ever increasing excitement, I'm getting a glimpse of what it was like for me in the build up to Christmas.

    One of my Christmas memories is of waking up around 3am, tiptoeing downstairs and looking through the glass doors that led into our living room. The lights on the tree we're sparkling and the stockings were full - Santa had already made his visit. The glass of milk we had left was half gone and the whiskey tumbler had been drained (bit of an alchy is our Santa).

    What's amazing is that I didn't rush in to my bursting stocking. I just sat there in awe, looking in on the magical scene.

    My siblings found me a couple of hours later, asleep outside the door.

    Deborah Morris

    I used to get really excited about Christmas, especially if I thought there was any chance of snow - must have been influenced by Bing C's song. I loved finding a stocking at the foot of my bed and then unwrapping each liitle present in it - except for the tangerine, the brazil nut and the large shiny penny coin which were unwrapped. I loved the ritual of the same 3 things always being at the bottom of my stocking.
    The first Christmas after my parents split up (1963) I didn't think my mother would have much money and I really wanted a Sindy Doll for some reason, so I searched in her room to see if she had bought me one and discovered not only Sindy but a beautiful pair of roller skates, thus ruining the surprise. I never looked again...

    Howard Nash

    Around 7 or 8 years old I graduated from a putting out a stocking on Christmas Eve to using a pillow case instead. Unable to sleep, I would lie awake for hours listening, knowing my parents were downstairs wrapping presents on the dining room table but still not quite realising who Father Christmas was. The excitement was intense and although I eventually drifted off I would wake up at some ungodly hour to discover my presents on the bed.

    My parents believed in educational things so Meccano sets and The Wonder Book of Why and What were the sort of thing I found.

    But the presents I best remember were small and sweet - such as packets of Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts, tubes of fruit pastilles and boxes of Turkish Delight and marshmallows. Confectionery had only just come off rationing, so sweets were still a great luxury, especially in an age when most children were not usually given regular pocket money.


    Singing carols around the piano in the front room, those pastel coloured concertina-paper decorations, getting all muffled up to go to midnight mass, the tangerine at the bottom of the Christmas stocking, the aching anticipation in the days before.


    My mother always flamed the Christmas pudding and I still hold a bright image of her bringing it gingerly to the Christmas dining table. We children thought it was magic that it could be on fire, but not burnt!


    My mother's family all lived in the Midlands. Every year the post van (or lorry, it seemed very big - but then I was small), would park outside our house in London at the crossroads and we would
    go out and collect large cardboard boxes packed with presents from our relatives. Also a turkey, as my Grandfather was a butcher. It was all the more exciting in the dark with the lights
    from the vehicle.

    Every year there would be a very tense time whilst my father would try to get the Christmas tree lights to work. They were the large coloured pointy ones. Each year they were packed away working and every year unpacked not.
    A mystery.


    Two things spring to mind at once -
    Firstly my father reading 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house...' - I must have been 4 or 5 years old. We were living in India, and I had never seen snow, but the excitement of thinking about Prancer and Dancer and the presents arriving was very real.
    Secondly a family tradition that we always listen to the service of Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings on Christmas Eve - wherever we are in the world - the family has often been very scattered, but it is a lovely feeling to know that we are all listening to the same words and music, despite being miles apart.
    Count your blessings and have a peaceful Christmas


    My father was in the NZ airforce and we often had 'waifs & strays' - foreign service buddies of his who, for whatever reason, couldn't get home - staying with us for Christmas. When asked what they could contribute, my mother would say a decoration for the tree and as a result we had the most eclectic collection of baubles, figures and ornaments from all over the world. My particular favourite was (and still is) a gold glass pineapple from a US navy sub-mariner who was Hawaiian and on whom, I am reliably informed, I had a monumental 4 year old crush.

    One year when my father was stuck somewhere we packed his parcel in November so the it could be put on a Hercules (I think he was on Ascension Island) and I remember being slightly shocked that at the bottom of the box my mother had put a 'chaps mag' along with the Christmas edition of the TLS!

    During a stint in Washington DC, we went to some friends for Christmas - he was a surgeon who worked with my mother - and when the turkey cam out it was covered in extra drumsticks... he'd sutured them on so that everyone could have one. A very memorable bird!

    Having parents who hailed from both hemispheres (northern Mother, southern Father) our Christmases consisted of traditional British on Christmas day (tho' we had to wait until the evening to eat so that we could light candles) and Antipodean Boxing day which was usually spent on a beach or by a pool and involved a BBQ and 'rellies'. My Scottish grandmother would send parcels sewn up in sacks and we would have to book our phone call to her - I have very vivid memories of shouting my thank you down the telephone and hearing them repeated in the 'bounce'.

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